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Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas outlines new migrant parole program during Miami visit

More than 11,000 Venezuelans have applied to program this month, agency says
Homeland Security
Posted at 7:55 PM, Jan 30, 2023

MIAMI — Florida's migrant crisis is now getting national attention. The head of Homeland Security made a stop in Miami on Monday.  

Florida 24 Network has covered the recent surge extensively over the last several weeks, and we were there on Monday as the secretary spoke to leaders in South Florida's Haitian and Cuban communities.

The Department of Homeland Security unveiled new details into the newest parole program.

They hope it's a way to stop people from putting themselves in harm's way at sea or at the hands of smugglers. They said this is the more affordable option that's legal.  

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"This is the model that this administration is committed to implementing, to build safe and lawful pathways for individuals who are seeking humanitarian relief in the United States," Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said.

Mayorkas spoke about the new parole program for Cubans, Haitians, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans. The program allows them to seek a sponsor in the United States at no cost by filling out a form.

Once approved, they pay for a flight to the U.S. where they will be authorized to work for two years.

"We welcome the humanitarian parole," shared Commissioner Marleine Bastien of Miami's District 2, "but this is not the full solution." 

Bastien said she's seen firsthand this humanitarian parole creating division because not everyone has access to a sponsor who has the financial means to support them.  

She said she requested a meeting with the president, "because as long as we don't address the root causes of migration in these nations, including Haiti, the refugees, there will be pressure for refugees to come here."
 
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According to Mayorkas, the federal government has contributed $3.5 billion to investigate the root causes of migration in the countries of origin.

Mayorkas said since the program's implementation on Jan. 5, there has been a decrease by almost 90% of migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela trying to cross the southwest border illegally.  

According to the agency, more than 11,000 Venezuelans have applied to the program, along with more than 1,700 from the other three countries.  

The program allows up to 30,000 immigrants to come to the U.S. every month.  

"We have built lawful pathways so people can come to the United States and seek relief. At the same time, those who do not avail themselves of those lawful pathways will not succeed in remaining in the United States," Mayorkas said.

The secretary also addressed concerns Monday with a lawsuit that was filed last week by 20 states, including Florida.

“Why these states would oppose an enforcement program that is proving successful is beyond my comprehension," he said.

The lawsuit was filed against DHS, CBP, ICE and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and claims that DHS and its leadership have over-reached their executive power.

In Florida's case, the state in the lawsuit claims they've paid thousands in public education, incarceration, state resources, medical services and unemployment benefits for these migrants.

However, Mayorkas believes this new program is a sure fix. He shared Monday that because migrants are authorized to work, they should not be relying on state funds or resources.  

"It is remarkable to me that states will attack a solution to the problem about which they complain," he said.

As far as what will happen to migrants after the two-year parole program, the agency said they have not worked out the details.